Marcello Lunelli, and oenologist and agronomist, studied all aspects of winemaking and agriculture in two of Italy’s beautiful cities, Trento and Milan. He is President of Tenuta Castelbuono, which is one of several brands managed by The Lunelli Group, and Vice President of Ferrari Metodo Classico, which his family has owned for three generations. Highly involved in Italy’s prestigious wine culture, Lunelli is a board member of both the Italian Wine and Italian Confederation of Wine and Vine Associations.
We were fortunate to speak with Lunelli about his upcoming presentation at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Umbria, Italy and his views on Italian wine and art. Below are his responses to our questions.
1. Your family has significant history with the Ferrari brand, what is your family’s relationship with Ferrari and what is your proudest achievement with the group?
The story of the Lunelli family is inextricably linked to that of the Ferrari winery, as in 1952 grandfather Bruno bought from Mr. Giulio Ferrari the winery he founded in 1902, that was the realization of his passion for sparkling wine. A passion he had cultivated after receiving an enological degree when he went to study in Champagne the art of producing sparkling wine with the noble method of re-fermentation in the bottle. In the last 110 years Ferrari has kept growing in quality and quantity becoming soon the most important Italian producer of Metodo Classico, and through the years the sole guiding principle has always been the worship of quality from the soil to the table, from the founder, Giulio Ferrari, to grandfather Bruno, through the second generation until us, the third generation Lunelli cousins. This achievement involved large investments in the vineyards and into the winery where a team composed of eight enologists and six agronomists follow, like guardian angels, the quality of the product, making it the leader and the key player of the TRENTODOC® wine region, which lays in the northern part of Italy and includes many other great Metodo Classico producers.
The uncompromising search for excellence has allowed Ferrari to obtain an unequalled series of accolades: it has won the Wine Oscar awarded by the Italian Sommeliers’ Association no less than four times and each year it receives the highest ratings from the most authoritative wine Guides, including the “Three Glasses” from Gambero Rosso, which gives this comment on its decision: “Relish Italy’s finest sparkling wine, and one of the finest anywhere in the world”.
Ferrari has always provided the perfect accompaniment for the most significant moments in the realms of the state, culture, show business and sport. It is with Ferrari that all guests to the Residence of the President of the Italian Republic and to Italian Embassies around the world are welcomed. It is with Ferrari that the stars of Hollywood celebrated on the night of the Oscars, and it is with Ferrari that our sportsmen have always toasted their victories, from the historic soccer World Cup of 1982 to that of 2006. The great names of fashion and of Italian lifestyle also choose the great sparkling wines of Trentino to put the final seal on their most important events. It is no accident that Ferrari is one of the founder-members of Altagamma, the association that is made up of Italy’s most prestigious brands.
2. The Lunelli Group, alongside Ferrari, offers a number of impressive sparkling wines. Can you talk about sparkling wine in Italy and what makes it unique from other parts of the world?
The world of sparkling wines within Italy is rich and varied. There are sparkling wines produced in large quantity using the Charmat method like Prosecco and Asti, and other produced using Metodo Classico in various areas of northern Italy like Oltrepò, Altalanga, Franciacorta and Trentino, where Ferrari grows.
Metodo Classico represents sparkling wine excellence and is recognized by the market as such. Within it, TRENTODOC® is the most distinctive because it perfectly matches a territory extremely vocated with over a century long tradition: it’s a zone delimited by the borders of the province of Trento, in the Northeast of Italy, in the middle of the famous Dolomite mountains, an area mainly suited for the cultivation of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two principal varieties for the production of sparkling wine using the traditional method. The particular climate here characterized by strong diurnal temperature variations during the months of grape maturation, combined with a limy soil rich in rock fragments, make Trentino exceptionally unique for the quality of the grapes used in the Metodo Classico sparkling wine. The wisdom of the producers combined with more than a century of tradition are inseparable elements of success that, in the Ferrari winery, make testimony to the aptitude of this land for producing great sparkling wine.
3. You will be talking about Castelbuono’s picturesque “Carapace” Winery at this years conference, what is it about the marriage of art and wine that creates such a unique experience?
A famous Italian writer, Mario Soldati, defined wine as “the poetry of the land.” Wine, in this case Sagrantino, is the true soul of Umbria, not only the fruit of man’s labor, but also as an expression of the territory with its traditions, its history, its people and its background. Wine represents a testimony to civilization which holds, conserves and conveys through time the soul of its territory, and stimulates not only the earthly senses but also the thoughts of those who taste it. Even art, especially sculpture, has a similarity in the reactions that it causes in those who appreciate it.
By involving the master sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, a family friend for a long time, we wanted to link together the destiny of the two arts, sculpture and enology, in an entrepreneurial adventure in which the sculpture becomes part of the territory in a harmonious way and will become a precious and unmatchable foundation for a project which has the scope to enhance both an extraordinary wine like Sagrantino as well as the region of Umbria with its rare beauty and intense mysticism. Therefore, wine brings together sculpture, local culture, man’s work and territorial tradition in a harmonious combination of emotions that touches the senses and sensibility of all the men lovers of art and good wine.
4. What are you looking forward to most at the conference in Italy this year?
The conference in Perugia is a wonderful opportunity at an international level to gain experience and critical insight enabling us to tackle seriously and in a qualified way the management of a cellar which can be defined as “the only sculpture in the world where one works, produces and tastes wine”. We strongly believe that food and wine tourism in Umbria is a resource not yet fully expressed, but with great potential that, thanks to the uniqueness of the “Castelbuono’s Carapace” combination of great art and wine, could increase its appeal benefiting all the players in the sector.
5. What wine will you be drinking this weekend?
I wouldn’t start without a glass of Metodo Classico Ferrari, symbol of lightness, joy, cheerfulness and conviviality and then I will give myself up completely to the magic world of Sagrantino, with its unexpected and magical aroma, impenetrable color, and majestic structure. A taste as intense, powerful and mysterious as the land which nurtured it.
Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Marcello and 200 – 300 more attendees. Marcello will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 30 at 11:00, titled: Art & Wine as drivers for Tourism: the unique experience of Castelbuono’s “Carapace” Winery